Story by Jennifer Bacchus on 12/14/2018ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. -- The depot delivered Christmas presents for 180 children in protective custody with the Calhoun County Department of Human Resources Dec. 13.
The presents will be distributed to the families by DHR case workers in time to be opened on Christmas.
For each child, employees were able to give gifts valued between $175 and $200. This means depot and tenant employees gave over $31,500 in support of children in our surrounding communities.
Jeff Finch from the depot's Cable Repair Shop participated in Christmas Cheer for the first time this year, shopping for the four children his shop sponsored.
With two young children, a preteen and a teenager to shop for, Finch relied on his past experiences with his own children.
"I have younger kids, so those two were easier to shop for," he said, as he detailed some of the gifts the children had requested.
The 11-year-old had some specific requests, including a Kindle Fire and a comforter set. The request for bedding surprised Finch.
"It shows you the situation they are living in," he said. "None of my kids have ever asked for a comforter set."
Finch's co-worker Anthony Bittle has helped with Christmas Cheer for about five years. He loves putting together gifts for the children.
This year, only one gift, a Doc McStuffins medical playset required assembly, though he fondly recalls years when kitchens, doll houses and other items needed to be assembled and boxed up for delivery.
Finch and Bittle, while enjoying the shopping and assembly aspects of Christmas Cheer, admitted they had a weakness - wrapping.
Fortunately, some of their other coworkers stepped up to ensure all the gifts were neatly packaged and wrapped for Christmas morning.
Angela Davis, from the Quality Assurance Office, also enjoys shopping for children each year during Christmas Cheer.
QAO sponsored nine children and Davis was thrilled to shop for one of them - an 18-month-old.
Though she knew the list wasn't written by the child, but the adults who cared for her, the request for a Minnie Mouse tugged on her heart strings.
"It was important to me to find for her that special Minnie Mouse," Davis said, adding she also sought out bedroom accessories to go with it.
She began to volunteer her time to the program in the late 90s. At the time, it became a family affair, since her husband worked for DHR.
Christmas Cheer also allows depot employees to sponsor installation families. These are coworkers who experienced hardships this year and have financial needs.
Installation families are anonymous to contributors only identified by a number and the family's situation. They have been approved for the program through depot leadership.
This year, nine depot families are sponsored by coworkers, who provided money or purchased gifts for the family members.
The depot's history with the Christmas Cheer program began in 1983 with assistance to depot employees - providing food for the holidays. Throughout the years, many charitable organizations have benefited from employees' generosity. The program teamed up with DHR in 1997, supporting 58 children that year.
Story was originally published on pages 1 and 4 of the Dec. 14, 2018 issue of "TRACKS." It may also be found at https://www.dvidshub.net/publication/issues/44797.